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Basic computer skills? Please define.

I received this message from Matthew, via Facebook. It’s a good question. I decided to share it and my answer to Matthew here. THANKS MATTHEW.

January 28 at 5:12pm

Dear Ms. Bugni,

In your post (which was very well-written, by the way) you mention the necessity of having “basic computer skills” to compete in today’s job market. What, exactly, do you define these skills as?


Matthew E.

I realized I frequently say you need basic computer skills, but seldom define it. I’ve listed my idea of basic skills below. Please, feel free to add to the list.

Hi Matthew —

Thank you for your kind words about my post.

I define basic computer skills as an ability to sit down at a computer and have enough knowledge of how software works to “figure out” what you need to do navigate either Microsoft based or industry-specific software.

This would include, for example, knowing how to send and receive emails, as well as attach documents to an email and open them when attached. It also includes an ability to know how to copy and paste information and use the Web for research.

Depending on the position, I’d also include a knowledge of how to create a document in Word and do basic word processing. Also, an ability to create simple spreadsheets.

There are few professions in this day and age that don’t require some interaction with a computer in some way, shape or form. I’m not saying you have to master every single software, but you’ve got to have enough knowledge to know the big red X in the corner closes the program, and the small ball at the bottom of a Windows screen is what you click to access almost everything.

Frequently, the only way to apply to a position is through an online application system and computers are used to log hours worked at many facilities.

One should also know basic computer terminology — Reboot, hard drive, software, operating systems, USB port.

There are so many common elements running through programs, a good deal of operation is intuitive. You can’t intuit if you don’t have a basic understanding of how things work.

If I’ve sparked more questions, let me know. Thanks for taking the time to engage. 🙂

(Ms. Bugni is not necessary, but thanks for not presuming. What a refreshing consideration!)

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  1. This is also one of the most frequent problems my clients run into. You could add, know if your computer has Microsoft Word on it. Not Works… because when you tell your professional resume writer that the resume won’t open, we need to know that you actually have the program that is supposed to open it on your computer. It is not magic.

    We could trade posts on this all day because I think every writer has a different story.

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by dawnbugni: Via Facebook I was asked”What do you mean when you say ‘basic computer skills’?” Here’s how I replied:

  3. Dawn says:

    Julie –

    You’re so right. We could trade stories all day about computer-related career roadblocks. Bottom line, computer skills are necessary for a good many positions today. To compete, get the skills.


  4. Love Poems : says:

    i always seek career advice from my parents and from industry professionals~'”

  5. Cuthbert says:

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